“Hey, Soul Sister,” the smash hit by Train, was blasting through speakers as walkers gathered in the field at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. The song was fitting as hundreds of survivors who had never met all became, in a way, “soul sisters,” rallying for a common cause that they knew all too well.
The survivors were, of course, not alone at the walk, which took place on Sunday, October 16. There were flocks of “striders” who came out because they knew someone who battled or is battling the disease, which affects about one in eight women in the United States.
The 106th Precinct Explorers were there, along with Community Affairs Officers Kenneth Zorn and Brenda Bratcher and Captain Thomas Pascale.
“It was nice of those kids taking the time,” said Zorn.
Even Assistant Chief James Secreto, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Patrol Borough Queens South, walked for the cause, which is very close to his heart.
“I think it’s something important, it’s a good cause. It affects me personally because my mother and aunt both had it,” said Austin Phillips, a senior at St. John’s University who walked with his own team, the Pink Panthers. “My mother’s in her eighth year of remission; she’s doing well, she’s healthy.”
People of every age and background honored and celebrated breast cancer survivors, raised awareness – and raised more than $877,000
Some had been doing it for years, like Marge Cashin, who manned the St. John’s tent for the Office of Community Relations. Although this was her 13th year taking part with the school, which is a flagship sponsor, she originally walked with her sister-in-law, whom she lost to breast cancer two years ago.
Others were taking part for the first time, as Adrienne Pellegrino was. A four-time All-Star winner for Relay for Life, she decided to try her hand at fundraising for Making Strides, raising an impressive $5,070 by herself. With her birthday coming up and the American Cancer Society’s slogan being “Creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” Pellegrino donned a life-sized birthday cake costume, garnering her lots of compliments and second glances.
One survivor, Delma Rosario, a St. Albans resident, summed up her experience – “You’re grateful to be a survivor.” Rosario, who was diagnosed just 10 days before her 39th birthday, has now been in remission for 15 years.